MSI NF750 – G55 motherboard review
MSI is one of the giants within the PC hardware industry. They have been around for as long as I can remember. Motherboards are one of the cornerstones of your business, but the company has diversified into many different areas in recent years, and as you may know, MSI is now one of the leading providers of laptops.
Today I am going to review a very interesting motherboard from MSI, the NF750-G55. Here are the specs:
AMD® Phenom (TM) II / Athlon (TM) II / Phenom (TM) compatible processor with AM3 package.
Unique NVIDIA® nForce 750a SLI chipset
Hyper Transport Bus HyperTransport 3.0 supporting speeds up to 5200 MT / s
Memory or Dual Supports DDR3 800/1066/1333/1600 (OC)
– 4 DDR3 DIMMs (240-pin / 1.5V)
– Supports up to 16GB.
Slots or 2 PCI Express x16 slots with x16 operation (PCI Express Bus SPEC V2.0 compliant)
o When 2 PCI Express x16 slots are fully installed, 16 PCIE x lanes will be arranged from x16 / x0 to x8 / x8.
or 2 PCI Express x1 slots
or 1 PCI slot, supports 3.3V / 5V PCI bus interface.
Integrated IDE or One NVIDIA® nForce 750a SLI IDE port
– 66/100/133 Extreme Supports DMA mode
– Supports PIO operation mode, Bus Masters
– You can connect up to two IDE devices
Integrated SATA or 5 SATA II ports from NVIDIA® nForce 750a SLI
o 1 NVIDIA® nForce 750a SLI eSATA II port
– Supports storage and data transfers of up to 3Gb / s
RAID 1-5 function SATA II supports RAID 0 1 0 + 1/5 or NVIDIA® nForce 750a SLI JBOD mode
Audio or Chipset integrated by Realtek® ALC889
– Flexible 8-channel audio with jack detection
– Meets Azalia 1.0 specification
LAN supports Realtek 45CL 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet
Internal I / O connectors: 24-pin ATX to power connector
– ATX 4-pin 12V CPU to power connector
– CPU x 1 / System x 3 FAN connectors
– CD input connector
– Clear CMOS to the jumper
– Power button
– Chassis intrusion switch connector
– Front audio panel connector
– Front panel connector
– Serial port connector
– 3 x additional 6-port compatible USB 2.0 connector
– 1 x floppy drive connector
– 5 x Serial ATA II connectors
– 1 x IDE ATA133 connectors
– 1 x SPDIF output to header
– 1 x TPM modulates the header
– 1 x OC switch
Back panel I / O ports: 1 PS / 2 keyboard
– 1 x PS / 2 mouse
– 1 x 6-in-1 audio jack
– 6 USB 2.0 ports
– 1 x RJ45 LAN connector
– 1 x eSATA port
– 1 x DVI-D port
– 1 x graphics card port
– 1 x HDMI port
Other Features MSI Active Phase Switching
MSI Easy OC switch
MSI Live Update Online
MSI Live 4 update
NVIDIA Hybrid (TM) SLI
True Audio Blu-ray
Based on the specifications of the NF750-G55, it is easy to conclude that MSI has worked hard to produce something a little more with this board. The board offers support for SLI, Hybrid SLI and has some interesting proprietary technologies from MSI, such as the “Easy OC Switch”. In this review, I will not test the SLI functionality as it has been done before, instead I will focus on the integrated GeForce 8200 chip and see what it can produce in terms of performance.
The NF750-G55 comes in a fairly understated-looking standard-size cardboard box. In it, MSI emphasizes the support of the latest AMD processors, the support for SLI and Hybrid SLI and some of the additional features like True Blu-ray Audio, APS and Easy OC Switch.
The accessories included are: a manual; a quick start installation guide; a drivers and utilities CD; the back I / O panel board; SATA and IDE cables and a SATA power converter cable.
MSI NF750-G55 IN DETAIL
Although the MSI NF750-G55 is of the ATX standard, it is a bit narrower than most other ATX boards.
There are 4 memory slots that support up to 16GB of DDR3 (up to 1600MHz). To clarify a bit here, the chipset officially only supports up to 1333MHz, but it is possible to run the memories at 1600MHz by making a small change to the multiplier in the BIOS.
The only heat sink on the motherboard is the heat sink located on the nForce 750a SLI circuit.
The CPU cooler is fastened with screws, which I think is great as it allows you to really understand how tight the cooler is, much better than with plastic anchor systems. The 4-pin connector for the CPU is located in the middle of the board.
MSI’s Active Phase Switching (APS) is located to the right of the 12V ATX connector. This system is in charge of the automatic regulation in real time of the power fed to the CPU. Actually the power level is illustrated by 4 LEDs which is a nice added feature.
The board has two PCI-E x16 ports and 1 PCI port. As you can see; the PCI-E ports are separated by a fairly large distance. If you use a dual-slot card in the second PCI-E port, you won’t be able to use the PCI port at all. It would have been better to place the PCI port before the first PCI-E x16 port.
The internal connectivity also incorporates 5 SATA 2 ports with RAID functionality, 3 USB 2.0 ports, a COM port connector, connectors for external audio; S / PDIF digital and a contact CD.
Integrated chips for sound and Ethernet connectivity are Realtek ALC889 and RTL45CL. Both chips are of high quality and backed by excellent drivers. The Fintek chip located next to the battery takes care of the general I / O functions of the motherboard and also allows to control fans with the popular SpeedFan program.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of this motherboard is the “Easy OC Switch”. It consists of a pink switch as you can see in the image below. This change allows us to increase the FSB by up to 35% without having to make any other changes. In principle, this addition is great, but it will only work well if the processor you are using supports overclocking without increasing the voltage.
The rear panel connectivity is excellent; see the specifications above for a complete list.
TEST EQUIPMENT INSTALLATION
For testing the MSI NF750-G55 I used the following hardware and software:
AMD Phenom II x2 550 SEES Processor
Zalman CNPS9900A LED fan
MSI NF750-G55 motherboard
GeForce 8200 graphics card (integrated)
Integrated sound card
Kingston HyperX DDR3 1333Mhz 2 × 2GB Memory (7-7-7-18)
Seagate ST3320620AS Hard Drive (SATA 2, 16MB, 7200 rpm)
Zalman ZM660-XT Power Supply
Cooler Master Box 690 cm PURE
Operating system and software
Windows XP SP3 operating system
System Drivers V1.0 BIOS
3D Mark 06 benchmarks
PC Mark 05
SiSoftware Sandra Lite XII
SuperPI 1.5 XS MOD
HD Tune 2.55
Crystal DiskMark 2.2
Light Mark 2008 (1280 × 1024)
FurMark 1.4 (1280 × 1024, NoMSAA)
WinRAR 3.80 real tests
X264HD Benchmark 2.0
X3: demo meeting
X3: Continuous demonstration of land conflicts
Shout 2 of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Officers Club
DH Photoshop Benchmark
Other software CPU-Z 1.51
Here are a couple of screenshots of the hardware I used:
In the graphics test I used a resolution of 1024 × 800 with the highest graphics settings.
The BIOS on this board comes from AMI (American Megatrends Inc) and is very intuitive and easy to handle when overclocking.
The menu that interested me the most was of course the cell menu, where all the really important settings are, at least if you want to overclock your system. Although the NF750-G55 can be considered a mid-range motherboard, it offers many possibilities for overclocking both the CPU and the memory modules.
The M-Flash program that is embedded in this BIOS is actually unique to MSI motherboards. It is a smart little program that allows us to update the BIOS and even make backup copies and recover old versions of the BIOS.
There is also a menu called “User Settings”. Allows you to configure different “profiles” of the BIOS settings. This can be useful if you want to quickly load a default overclocking setting for a gaming session or the like.
COMPARATIVE TESTS PART 1
The CPU performance of the nForce 750a chip is within the range I expected. However, the memory tests came out a bit short, which surprised me as this is usually a strong area with NVIDIA chips.
COMPARATIVE TESTS PART 2
The HD read and write speeds were very good, which means that NVIDIA has resolved the driver issues that have caused the hard drive to run slower than it should on older chipsets.
REAL WORLD TESTS
What struck me from the above results was the poor WinRAR test results. My conclusion is that it must be due to the memory issue mentioned above.
In testing the IGP GeForce 8200 chip I didn’t get any noticeable results in the 3D test, so it’s easy to conclude that you shouldn’t be using it for gaming. However, it worked well for HD video playback.
The power use of this system is really low, especially when it’s running in idle mode, making it a good option if you’re building a 24/7 system.
NVIDIA has created the classic overclocking chipsets from AMD in the past, including the now near-mythical nForce 2 and nForce 4 platforms. So what about the overclocking capabilities of the nForce 750a SLI? The following screenshots say it all:
I was able to overclock the FSB to 264MHz (!) Which was actually a bit surprising to me, I didn’t expect it to be that “overclockable” being a mid-range card.
I also tried to overclock the integrated graphics card (GeForce 8200). Got it to run stably at 601 / 1442MHz for the core and shaders respectively.
My first experience with the NF750 chipset has been a pleasure. The MSI NF750-G55 is a very diverse motherboard. It can be used in a hardcore SLI high-end system or can be used as a motherboard for an HTPC project thanks to the integrated VGA with HDMI output.
Generally, MSI has managed to build a great motherboard around the nForce 750a SLI chipset. Its performance and overclocking capabilities are excellent, as is its connectivity. The integrated graphics solution is good but not as powerful as some of the integrated chips that AMD / ATI offers.